Although conventional wisdom may say that advanced college degrees are the ticket to success, a trade career is likely a better option. A trade career is a fast-track ticket to financial success with shorter and less expensive training than a college degree. In short, less student loans and good pay!
In this article, we will break down the 10 best trade careers that will earn you the biggest paycheck and require limited training.
1. Construction Managers
A job as a construction manager pays more than even most other trade careers out there, which is why it is #1 on this list. With a median salary of $95,000 and only an associate degree required, it’s a great career choice.
Construction managers can work in several industries, including commercial, residential, industrial, and public construction projects. There is no shortage of available jobs no matter where you live because the building industry is booming everywhere.
There are a lot of opportunities for construction managers to further their education with additional certifications like project management. A combination of working experience and pursuing a certificate or two could command a six-figure salary in this industry.
If you like to oversee projects from start to finish, like working with people and have strong attention to detail, a career as a construction manager is a fantastic option.
Although plumbing may seem like a thankless and even gross job, the numbers don’t lie. Plumbing is a fantastic career because it offers a strong median salary of $50,000-$60,000 starting and can more than double with experience.
A six-figure salary for a plumber is not uncommon, and it won’t take decades of working your way up the corporate ladder to get there.
So whether you gain experience working under a seasoned plumber or start your own plumbing business, the money is there.
Plumbers are in high demand in residential and commercial buildings and work with homeowners who need repairs. If you are handy, enjoy installing and fixing problems, and like working by yourself, then plumbing may be an excellent career for you.
3. Elevator Mechanic
It’s easy to forget that it’s someone’s job to be responsible for installing, fixing, and maintaining the elevators we use all the time on our way up to our apartment or office. Because this job is all about safety, it pays surprisingly well.
An elevator mechanic can expect to bring home an average salary of $85,000 annually. This career will require significant training and some licenses, but both are easy and inexpensive to obtain as most training can be done on the job.
Elevator mechanics need to read and interpret blueprints, understand basic electrical concepts, and be safety oriented.
This is a terrific career if you are reasonably comfortable with heights and tight spaces and enjoy fixing problems.
4. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygiene is a fantastic career, especially if a part-time schedule is of interest.
Dental hygienists bring home an average of $75,000-$80,000 per year working under a dentist performing routine teeth cleanings, exams, x-rays, etc.
Dental hygienists will need to complete an associate program through a trade school and obtain a license in the state they work.
Hygienists typically work in a dental practice, providing excellent flexible hours as you advance in your career or start a family while still offering a significant income.
If you have attention to detail, enjoy working very closely with people, and are looking for a trade career that doesn’t require long hours or weekends, a career in dental hygiene could be for you.
Electricians are always in high demand because power is one thing that all residential homes and commercial buildings need.
With an average salary of over $55,000, paid training, and the high demand, electricians, make good money quickly.
As an electrician, you could work in various settings, including new properties and homes being built or home renovations and repairs. Electricians partner with residential and commercial builders on large projects or work with homeowners individually.
There are many different areas of focus for the electrician career path, or you can choose to remain a generalist and work on any project that comes your way.
Electricians commonly work as independent contractors once they are trained to have flexibility.
You will be required to complete an apprenticeship which can be 4-5 years before becoming a full-fledged electrician, but the apprenticeship period is paid. This is an excellent career for someone looking to get started in an industry that will keep you busy!
6. MRI Technician
A career in the medical field is always a stable choice. If you train as an MRI Technician, you have many employment options from hospitals to standalone imaging centers and typically can command a salary of $60,000 or more.
After completing a training program at a trade school of your choice, you can settle into a position as an MRI Technician at your local hospital or a radiology center.
This is another trade career that can offer a great deal of flexibility to work part-time or full-time. In addition, you can usually make your schedule at one or multiple hospitals or clinics if you wish.
MRI Technicians see patients all day long, so it’s essential to be comfortable working with people, have an overall cheerful demeanor, and enjoy the medical atmosphere of a hospital or clinic. This is an excellent, lucrative career to pursue if that sounds like you.
7. HVAC Technician
HVAC technicians are right up there with plumbers and electricians in terms of demand. Almost every home or commercial building requires one regularly, whether installing new units or fixing problems.
HVAC training can be completed in less than a year, and the median salary is around $50,000.
There is typically a paid apprenticeship phase where you will work under a licensed HVAC technician to gain experience before becoming licensed yourself.
HVAC stands for Heating Venting and Air Conditioning, so if you choose to pursue this career, you will be working with installing, diagnosing, and repairing heating and air conditioning systems. There is the option to work in commercial or residential as well.
Many HVAC technicians start their own business after completing their apprenticeships, and this is typically the way to make the most money in this industry.
A career in HVAC is an excellent choice if you are looking for job stability and autonomy, enjoy problem-solving and are comfortable with tight spaces and extreme temperatures.
8. Aircraft Mechanic
As with any job that involves working on or around airplanes, aircraft mechanics make excellent money. This specialized subset of mechanics requires strong electrical and mechanical knowledge and earns $70,000 per year on average.
Aircraft mechanics must comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and troubleshoot multi-system issues with ease. There is a lot of attention to detail, and safety is of the utmost concern, which is why this job pays so well.
You will be expected to know a lot about aeronautics and be a natural problem solver in this job.
If you are mechanically inclined and love the aviation industry, a career as an aircraft mechanic would be an advantageous and financially stable option.
Boilermakers are a specialized trade profession that works on large-scale boilers in ships and commercial buildings. This specialized trade can command a salary upwards of $65,000 on average.
Boilermakers follow a training and apprenticeship model like other trade professions. You must complete a training program, and the apprenticeship phase is not to be overlooked because boilermakers must be knowledgeable in many areas.
One thing that is unique about this career is the physical component. Boilermakers must be comfortable working in all weather, and the work itself is physically quite demanding.
If you like the idea of cross-training in several different skills, becoming a boilermaker may be for you. However, to become successful, you will need to learn construction, fabrication, welding, pipefitting, and HVAC, which is a very specialized path.
10. Electrical Lineman
A career as an electrical lineman will keep you up in the sky most of the time, but the paycheck is undoubtedly worth it. Electrical lineman spend their days working on the power lines and take home an average of $75,000 per year.
Working as an electrical lineman or power line technician is not for the faint of heart. You have to be comfortable with heights as most jobs require working on high power lines off the ground.
As an electrical lineman, you’ll be called on to install and repair power lines in all kinds of weather. While the work is usually during regular business hours, you may be required to respond to outages during storms at night or on weekends.
This is a great, stable position that requires on-the-job primarily training and is always in high demand. As long as you are comfortable with working in inclement weather, occasional odd hours, and are comfortable with heights, this could be the job for you.
The careers listed above are 10 of the highest paying and most in-demand trade careers that are out there today. Trade careers are genuinely one of the best options for a stable and lucrative career path with minimal schooling required to get started.
Most of the trades listed above require a short 1-3 year training program and some on-the-job training at the very most.
Also, you can get started with some of these trades with only a high school diploma, and you could be well on your way to a great career with an income to match.
Photo by: Alcangel